Avanzado Clear Choice in Underwood

Fresh off a dominant victory in the Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap (gr. I), Argentine-bred Avanzado will attempt to reaffirm his standing as California's premier sprinter in Thursday's $100,000 Vernon O. Underwood (gr. III) at Hollywood Park.

The six-furlong Underwood heads an eight-race Thanksgiving Day racing program at Hollywood Park. First post was advanced to 11 a.m. for Thursday only.

Avanzado, who will break from the rail and carry high weight of 124 pounds, will be conceding at least six pounds to each of six rivals. He nonetheless figures to be an odds-on favorite in a race that has produced upsets in 19 of its past 25 runnings.

With regular rider Tyler Baze aboard for trainer Doug O'Neill, Avanzado scored by 1 ½ lengths while leading all the way in the Ancient Title at Santa Anita Park on Oct. 5. He covered six furlongs in 1:08. Captain Squire and Bluesthestandard finished second and third, respectively. The latter returned to run second behind Cajun Beat in the Oct. 25 Breeders' Cup Sprint. Avanzado was held out of the Breeders' Cup event by Cees Stable LLC because of supplementary costs.

Avanzado, who has earned $884,188 from a 10-5-2 mark in 26 career starts, finished fifth after breaking from the rail when favored in his only previous Hollywood Park start last summer in the Triple Bend Handicap (gr. I). His opposition on Thursday includes trainer Bobby Frankel's Watchem Smokey, a 3-year-old gelding who is unbeaten in six sprint starts on dirt tracks.

$100,000 Vernon O. Underwood Handicap, 3 & up, 6 furlongs
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight
1. Avanzado, Tyler Baze, 126
2. Fonz's, Ryan Fogelsonger, 114
3. Watchem Smokey, Julie Krone, 112
4. a-Our New Recruit, Mike Smith, 114
5. a-Hasty Kris, Kent Desormeaux, 114
6. Omega Code, Patrick Valenzuela, 118
7. Ride and Shine, Iggy Puglisi, 114
a-C R K Stable entry

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